NASA’s Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) Payload Safety Program hosted a workshop at Kennedy Space Center Dec. 3-4.
The workshop served as an open forum for the payload safety community, including NASA employees, contractors, Air Force members and spacecraft manufacturers. Attendees discussed updates to NASA’s ELV Payload Safety policy and standard as well as future challenges facing the community.
“[The workshop] allowed for cross-organization discussions that normally do not have the opportunity to take place in our normal mission work,” said NASA ELV Payload Safety Program Manager Calvert Staubus.
Changes to NASA Procedural Requirements 8715.7, Expendable Launch Vehicle Payload Safety Program, and NASA Standard 8719.24, NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Payload Safety Requirements, drove the scheduling of this workshop. The updates improved the payload safety review and approval process and the workshop helped expand the community’s knowledge of the revised requirements.
“That’s our constant drive for this program — to improve this process — so by getting the community together and presenting on different aspects that go into payload safety and our review and approval process, it enables us to improve on it and see where there are flaws,” explained Jennifer Holland, senior engineer with ManTech SRS.
Other presentations included
- Payload safety challenges
- Planetary missions
- Return-to-Earth missions
- The Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction mission
- The Launch Services Program
- Launch Site Integration
- Exploration Systems Development
- Mishap reporting and contingency planning
- Risk acceptance
- Orbital debris
- Composite pressure vessels
- Wallops Flight Facility safety
- Ground processing of spacecraft with radioisotopes
- Payload battery safety
- Software safety
- Astrotech payload processing facilities
Discussions also touched on future challenges associated with an increase in Technology Demonstration Missions (TDMs) and the use of ridesharing payloads, commercial payloads and foreign launch services.
Several TDMs are nearing launch and test dates in coming years and currently are beginning their safety review processes. According to Staubus, many of these missions are taking advantage of ridesharing or commercial payload buses for cost savings and these avenues require increased communication and sound decision making to ensure safety.
“Our technical understanding, communications and coordination must continue to improve if we want to maintain our stellar payload safety record,” said Staubus.
In addition, presentations on the Global Precipitation Measurement mission raised awareness of the challenges that come with using a foreign launch service or working jointly on a project with a foreign agency and provided lessons learned that can be applied to future partnerships.
Hal Bell, NASA deputy chief of Safety and Mission Assurance, also spoke at the workshop. He thanked the attendees for their contributions to the success of NASA’s ELV Payload Safety Program and discussed risk, policy and ultimate authority regarding NASA missions.
Staubus and Holland hope to schedule follow-up workshops in the near future to work on some of the issues discussed in December.
“We need to consider smaller future workshops with targeted attendees focusing on these challenge areas one at a time,” said Holland.
Learn more about the policy changes.